Etiquette of Letter Writing to Government Officials

Written by tamiya king
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Etiquette of Letter Writing to Government Officials
Writing a letter to a government official allows you to express your concern for your community, city and nation. (jefferson memorial image by Ritu Jethani from Fotolia.com)

If you want to see a certain bill passed, want to get the attention of local government for bettering school or hospital conditions, or simply want to commend your representatives for a job well done, it's best to follow some rules of etiquette when writing a letter. Adhering to these courtesies will help you to get all your points across in a concise and respectful manner.

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Introduction

In the introduction of the letter, it is appropriate to state your full name, as well as any affiliations you have. If you are a concerned parent or community member, the introduction is the time to make this known. If you're writing a letter to a government official on behalf of a non-profit organisation of small business, be sure to make this clear as well so that the official will immediately view you are part of the community he serves.

Purpose and Opinion

The purpose of the letter should be communicated immediately after the introduction. These purposes should be communicated explicitly, in order to avoid confusion (i.e. we are concerned about the lack of nutritional quality in the city's school lunches). If the letter is pertaining to a particular bill that is being passed or has been passed, it is proper etiquette to include the name and number of the bill, and to plainly state one's position regarding the bill.

Request to Take Action

After stating the problem or issue, suggest ways that the government official can take action. Doing research for this part of the letter is best so that logical and probable solutions may be offered. For instance, if the city is planning on closing some of the recreational parks in the neighbourhood, suggesting fundraisers that the community can participate in to raise monies to keep parks open for children is a good idea. If an unfavourable bill has already been passed, opposing the bill, along with offering possible alternatives, is the best way to address the issue.

Requesting a Response

After stating the cause of the letter and offering a variety of viewpoints on the issue(s), proper etiquette suggests requesting a response from the government official. This request should be as pleasant and tactful as possible--phrases such as "Your response is greatly appreciated" or "I look forward to your response" are appropriate. It is also acceptable to call the number provided by the government official to ensure that the letter was received.

Closing

Ending the letter by thanking the government official for the great job she is doing for the community keeps the letter pleasant, and increases the chances that the official will respond. Extending thanks on behalf of the group one is writing for (i.e. homeowner's association, local charity) is appropriate as well. If the letter is pertaining to an urgent matter, it is acceptable etiquette to close the document with one final appeal.

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